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President’s Project – Appalachian Wildlife Center

In Bell County in the Mountain Laurel District of The Garden Club of Kentucky there is a 12,000-acre tract of land that is being developed for an elk preserve by The Appalachian Wildlife Foundation. This preserve, which will be developed on abandoned coal strip mine property, will have a visitor’s center, small lake, restaurant, petting zoo and elk viewing tours as well as historical displays of the area’s mining on this land. These acres of old strip mine property that surround the visitor’s center will be reclaimed and planted to create the prairie necessary for the elk. This area is isolated and free from pesticide overspray. Several rare migratory birds have been sighted in the preserve that depend on feeding from our native seeds and berries along their journey. There are bear, fox, bobcats and other small mammals living on the property.

For my special project, our garden club members will collaborate with The Appalachian Wildlife Center to develop several acres of native habitat near the visitor’s center. We would provide seed and help develop plans for fields of native wildflowers and grasses that would provide food and shelter for many birds, small mammals, insects and other creatures.

This area and its surrounds would need to include a covered outdoor classroom and walking trails for students and other visitors to the preserve.

I feel that my project would be an educational tool that would help all visitors learn how important native plants are to the protection and continuation of all native life around us.

June Garden Tasks

THINGS TO DO

15 Minute – Cat Gardening (plus 10-14 days of growing time)– Cats are known to nibble on house plants that may not be safe for them. While barley, oat, rye, and wheat aid their digestion, they  may contain ingredients that are not necessarily safe for cats. Pet store kits are much more reliable and contain seeds, soil, and potting container.

Garden – Those pesky weeds still are out there and multiplying overnight. Leave some iris stalks for fall designs.

Sharing flowers with friends is a thoughtful gesture but to avoid allergies or COVID, call first. As an alternate, send pictures of individual flowers and bouquets.

Trees and shrubs – Warm and wet spring have produced fast-growing branches.  Privet is a fast-growing, dramatic shrub when in bloom in May and June. When blooms start to fade, cut back to shape and prevent setting seed. Each flower produces a seed that will readily germinate, and this plant is on the invasive species list for Kentucky. If you like to prune, this is the hedge for you. Even if you cut too much, it will regrow readily.

Prune the bloomed-out branches of bush honeysuckle and spirea  to keep their shape and produce buds for next year. Dig or pull up tree saplings. Dig buckeyes straight down to get the entire tap root. If some remains, it will regenerate before you can blink your eyes.

Vegetables – Keep a record of plants that attract insects, those that don’t, and little tricks to improve their growth and harvest. Companion plant radishes, and spread wood ash around onions to deter onion maggots. Check for slugs, and place strips of copper or builders sand around the plants they enjoy. Replace plants with those that insects don’t like: with basil, parsley, sage, and beans, corn, chard, pumpkin, and sunflower.

An old gardeners’ adage is that perimeter plant the garden with marigolds to deter insects. It is lovely, but it is not an effective insect repellant. However, daffodils will deter ground burrowing animals as the bulbs contain toxins. The first year the burrowers will discover the bulbs, and thereafter they will avoid.

Hanging Baskets

When Mother Nell (Mrs. James Smith) lived in her home Bide-a-Wee in Paducah a century ago, she was the first to have hanging baskets of Boston ferns on her front porch. To all who travel through Paducah today, her home is best known as Whitehaven Welcome Center (I-24, exit 7).

Nothing adds more welcome to a home quite the same as hanging baskets. The secret is that they are hanging at eye level much as you would hang a picture, and that immediately gets guests’ attention, who don’t have to look down to enjoy colorful beds. For you, it’s easy to change out their colors and designs and to maintain them.

Create a several-month basic design with seasonal plants can be replaced. Select tall, vining and fluffy annuals and perennials that can be changed during the season. Include Iva Lace, sweet potato vine, or creeping thyme to hide the container. The volume will give the impression of a larger container than it really is. Hardy plants give different texture in the winter.

Plants should be have the same environmental requirements. For sunny locations, plant verbena, moss rose, geranium, marigold, bacopa (and shade) for its delicate blooms. For shade, plant tuberous begonia and impatiens, and of course, ferns.

A Garden of White

To get the greatest value from your landscape plants, they should contribute to the beauty of the yard at least three seasons of the year. To increase the yard’s usage beyond daylight hours, you can add a ‘third’ season that extends use into the evening.

Of all of the attribute of plants, it is color that gets and holds our attention. In the early to middle 1900s, English gardener Vita Sackville-West promoted planting what she called ‘grey, white and green plants’. She included in her list whites that open pink or turned a light pink as they matured and plants with variegated foliage.

White or light blooms and light or variegated foliage reflect ambient light in the nighttime garden, extending the beauty and use of the garden without adding more plants.

A full moon on white, silvery or light blooms will shine as though spotlighted. The Cornus kousa (Korean dogwood) is in full bloom backed by dark green foliage. Even with moderate light it needs no spots to show off at night. Dwarf Spirea ‘Limelight’ foliage is light green, but it is enhanced by vivid purple iris, and its deep green foliage is a perfect foil for the spirea.

Sackville’s “White Garden” balanced white with a wide variety of green, from soft mossy grey to pure green. She believed in clumps of foliage to allow the eye to focus on the whites. Among her favorites were candytuft, moon flower, calla, Thalia daffodil, and fragrant snowdrop, all of which are easily obtainable and grow well here. Also, Echinacea purpurea ‘White Swan’, Clematis ‘Duchess of Edinburgh’(Springhill Nursery), Thymus ‘Silver Posie’, To achieve the same effect as  her large border plants,  add hydrangea and peonies.

A white garden does not add more work or plants, but rewards you with a spectacular evening garden, especially on a moonlit night.

Things to do in your yard in May

15-Minute Gardening– Save coffee pods for seed starters. Empty grounds, rinse, fill with damp starting soil, sprinkle seed and cover with a thin layer of mix. Place in a clear plastic container in which holes have been punch for a green house. Use a permanent marker to write the name and planting date on the handle of a plastic fork or knife.

For a child’s plant starter, super glue the bottoms of two pods, poke holes in the ‘bottom’ of one pod, draw a face on the other, thread a pipe cleaner through for arms, and plant.

Mother’s Day – Gardening is a healthy form of exercise. Share your love of gardening without sharing disease. Order certificates, plants, containers, and/or tools for Mother’s Day or special friend. Many online and local nurseries are having weekly spring discounts

Garden – Weed. If the ground is dry, water the day before. Pinch the weed at ground level and gently tug.  Taproot weeds need to be dug out or torched. Use a small propane torch to wilt the foliage that will dehydrate the roots killing the plant. If it is not killed in a few days, repeat.

Houseplants – Still too cool to cold to leave houseplants out overnight. If not too burdensome, take out each day that will be in the 70s, place in a wind protected area and bring inside each night, or cover with a sheet.

Lawn – Mow a different direction each time you mow. Mow in late afternoon and no more than 3 inches off the grass blades each time to reduce stress.

Carolyn Roof, the Sun’s gardening columnist, at carolynroof02@gmail.com

Caring for Roses

It seems as though for the past few years, spring has snuck up on most of us – it is not supposed to happen in January or February, and then it is catch up time the rest of the year. Daffodils were gorgeous, but came two to three weeks early, followed by all spring flowering bloomers and weeds at the same time while avoiding coronavirus.

Coronavirus has had a major impact on gardening and the flower industry, from spring planting to social events (proms, weddings, Mother’s Day, etc.), just as it has been shut down just as so many other imports have.

If you want to give Mother and other ladies cut roses for their special occasions, it may be too late by now. Don’t despair, however; present her with a Patio, Miniature or other container rose instead or along with a single rose(s).

We just are cool enough that bare root roses can be planted (40-60 degrees). Dig the planting hole using a pointed spade, dig the hole deep enough that a small mound of soil/compost/well-rotted manure can form a mound in the center. In the meantime, soak the roots several hours to one day to rehydrate. Place in the hole so that the new growth is just at the soil level, fill, water and add more mix the next day if needed.

Prepare the planting hole for container roses the same way. Remove the rose by tapping on the container edges, cut into the root ball and roots starting to girdle, splay out and place on the mixture mound.

Patio and Miniature roses may be grown in appropriate-size decorative containers one to two sizes large that the rose’s container. Line with moist moss and ‘plant’ in the decorative container. A friend gave his wife a Patio rose for Mother’s Day and put a new bow on it each Mother’s Day. She loved it.

In the Arboretum – Spring Comes Early

Last fall, Mrs. Wallis’s Rose Arbor was repaired and painted by garden club members as they tried to avoid the decidedly thorny canes. They didn’t always succeed but agreed that the ‘New Dawn’ rose variety, originally planted in the 1940s by Mrs. Wallis, will show off its pale pink blooms against the pure white of the arbor. New Dawn is one of the easiest and most vigorous climbing varieties. Termed rambunctious by some, it also is one of the easiest for a beginner to grow.

Spring has come early this year.

While it is early for roses, the Autumnalis cherry trees (Prunus pendula) are in full bloom announcing that spring is here. Early blooming Tulip Magnolia (Magnolia soulangeana), Star (M. stellata), and the yellow hybrids Elizabeth and Butterfly (M. acuminata and M. denudate respectively) are at their best. Butterfly announces spring with its usually late winter to early spring blooms followed by Elizabeth’s normally early to mid-spring. It is unusual for both to bloom at the same time, giving visitors a lovely show. The wildflowers are peeping up, including bloodroot and Virginia bluebells. Daffodils and tulips are in bloom scattered throughout the back gardens.

Due to the Coronavirus-19 group events many have been cancelled or postponed, but not the splendor of this spring. Take advantage of the plants in bloom and visit the Arboretum, 616 Pleasant Street in Paris KY, or take a walk around the neighborhood or Bourbon County Park, admiring what is in bloom. Enjoy nature’s beauty.

Gardening Tips – April

15 minutes– Install a rain gauge and keep record of the weekly amount of rain in your garden journal. It is a great project for school children. Most plants need at least 1” of rain a week, more during droughts.

In Your Garden

  • Many spring flowers are early and dying due to heat. Deadhead by cutting back to a leaf bud.
  • Daffodils – Cut daffodil stems (for the flowers only) to the ground and allow foliage to die back to 2/3rds and yellow before cutting. Do not fold or braid the foliage as flowers die; the foliage is producing buds for next year.
  • Order spring bulbs for fall planting. A good sources are brentandbeckysbulbs.com and scheepersbulbs.com.
  • Prune back last year’s perennials. If more than 2/3rds of the plant is dead, remove and plant replacements. Sow morning glories.
  • Prune roses back to live canes, remove winter mulch, and fertilize established plants when leaves are 2” long leaves. If black spot was a problem last year, remove any dropped leaves and start black spot spray program.
  • Install soaker hoses and cover with mulch to hide the hoses and keep the ground moist.
  • Make a list of gaps that need filling with shrubs, perennials and bulbs. Take you ‘need list’ with you when visiting your nursery or ordering online. It will save you time and avoid mistakes.
  • Purchase bedding plants that are compact, typical foliage color and with a few flowers to indicate flower color. Plant tags are not always accurate.
  • For Your Lawn: Mow at the highest setting when the ground is dry enough that the mower wheel do not leave impressions in the soil.

Trees and shrubs

Do not prune boxwood until after last change of a hard freeze. Late April check foliage for leaf miner and spray with an insecticide if adults are present. Treat larvae late June with a foliar insecticide.

Dispose of cedar-apple galls on junipers before they produce a jelly-like sticky orange spore-producing substance. The galls are not harmful to junipers but do spread rust disease to apples and other apple family members.

Vegetables – Planting by Phenology

Instead of planting by the calendar, use phenology (plants whose activities usually coincide):

  • When lilac leaves are the size of mouse ears,  plant peas and lettuce.
  • When dandelions are blooming, plant spinach, beets and carrots.
  • When daffodils bloom, plant peas and direct plant Swiss chard, sweet corn and mustard.

Cancelling the 2020 Convention

After consulting with several of you and hearing your concerns about the COVID-19 virus, I have made the decision to cancel our 2020 GCKY convention in Paducah.  West Virginia has already postponed its convention. I’m waiting to hear from Patrica Arndt, our SAR Director, to hear what the plan is for the SAR Convention.
Please express my apologies to all of the members you know who have already worked so hard to make our convention interesting, educational, beautiful and fun!
I would like to wait a few weeks and see how this national health problem develops before we make a plan for future meetings.
Stay safe,
Donna